Breakfast at the hotel. A really good, typically German, buffet selection. Loads of cold meats (all pork & ham), cheeses, breads (good enough to make the French jealous), cereals, fruits and yogurt. Nothing cooked, but still plenty enough choice.
The morning was free to explore Einrhur.
A small town, almost a village, which seems to be a dormitory for nearby larger towns and a hotel/guest house centre for those who want to go hiking through the Eifel National Park or spend time on or around the lake.
An odd sort of place: churches, hotels, bars, restaurants but not a single shop of any sort. Nowhere to buy a newspaper, cigarettes, anything at all.
In the afternoon we drove to Aachen, about an hour away. To be honest, fairly ordinary (except, perhaps the cathedral). Maybe the weather (grey and damp) did nothing to help, but it seemed nothing more than a fairly standard provincial German town.
Back to the hotel for 6:30pm, dinner at 7:30pm.
Someone in the kitchen certainly knows how to cook, but whoever designed the menu needs professional help!
We started with a Goulash Soup - absolutely delicious.
Then to the main course. Chicken in a curry sauce with rice. Now… Germany has no connection with anywhere in the World where curry is eaten. Anyone who’s ever eaten currywürst will know this. Curry (in all its forms) is practically Britain’s national dish. A risky strategy by the chef, I think!
Whatever are oranges, maraschino cherries, pineapple and grapes doing in a curry? Who on Earth thinks apple sauce with cranberries goes with a curry and rice? Thankfully, the chicken was served family-style, on a platter, resting on top of this yellowish fruity abomination and was beautifully cooked. The “curry” remained on the platter.
Dessert was pretty good, too.
Tomorrow we’re off for a tour of the National Park and a wine tasting. Hopefully we won’t notice the rain if we manage to taste enough of it!
Today we travelled through the Eifel National Park to visit some of its towns. And, just to defy the weather forecasters; no rain and some broken sunshine.
First we visited Bad Münstereifel, a charming little town with its original medieval walls intact and a pretty little stream running through the main street.
As we’ve been travelling through Nord Rhine-Westphalia, we have seen trees and poles strewn with crepe-paper streamers. Our tour guides knew nothing so Margaret asked at the Tourist Information Office (where else?). It’s a local tradition associated with May-Day. Young men decorate the trees to show their love for a certain woman. By the number of these we saw, the Westphalian man must be both virile and promiscuous - there are hundreds of them, everywhere.
We then visited Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweller. Another really delightful town.
We only had 50 minutes here, as we’d opted to visit a nearby winery to sample German wines. Although only a brief visit, this town certainly had a lots of sights to see.
The winery visit was “interesting” (OK: Damned by faint praise). We toured the wine making facilities, as promised, except wine is no longer made at this site. It has merged with a cooperative and all the wine is now made at a larger, more modern winery. It was interesting nonetheless, as a well informed guide showed us around and explained how wine making has progressed over the centuries.
The wine tasting consisted of the three categories made by the cooperative: white, rosé and red. The white, a reisling, was a little sweet but pleasant, the red thin and lacking in any body whatsoever, the rosé was sharp enough to replace vinegar on fish and chips. However, at last I now understand why beer is Germany’s national drink!
Tomorrow we’re off to Monschau, alleged to be a photographer’s paradise. I’m putting out offerings to the weather gods!
Set off at 6:15am to meet our coach for the journey to the Eifel Mountains. Leger, as before, were punctual and efficient and had us in Dover for midday for the transfer to the tour coach.
Ferry across the Channel. Oops!
Oddly, whilst we have taken this crossing many times before, this was the first time in stormy weather. “Not a problem,” said the Captain during his ‘Welcome Aboard’ announcement, “the ship’s fully stabilised.” So glad about that! Lord knows what it might have been like if it hadn’t been. Dishes and cutlery hit the deck. People were being ill. I’m not subject to motion sickness. Margaret is, but, thanks to the advice of our American friend (yes, Wendy. I’m talking about you!), she'd had bought some recommended sea-sickness remedy and she simply laughed in the face of the stormy waters!
There was a serious side, however. About 20 minutes in to the crossing we must have sailed into a high wave. It sounded and felt like a collision. The ship literally stalled in the water. Minutes later (you see it in the movies, but never in real life) there was an announcement asking for doctors or anyone with any medical training to come forward. Clearly, some person or persons had fallen badly. On docking, coach drivers had been asked to disembark as quickly as possible to allow emergency vehicles on board.
The drive through Belgium was uneventful, and we arrived at the hotel around 10:30pm. A typical European 3* tourist grade hotel: well presented public areas and basic but comfortable rooms. An unexpected bonus, however. Our room has a balcony/terrace (just a touch smaller than the room!) overlooking the lake. Shame the weather’s not planning on letting us take full advantage.
Bed time: Midnight. Tomorrow morning is “free” and in the afternoon we’re off to Aachen.
A short journey today to Monschau, claiming to be the prettiest town in Germany.
It is a delightful little town, but it does overstate its credentials. Admittedly, the weather did little to help!
In many towns throughout the UK and Europe, people decorate their houses with birds or butterflies. Monschau residents seem a little strange! Spiders!!!
What Monschau should claim is to having some of the best bakeries in Germany. The one we found (sheltering from rain being a priority) served wonderful pastries and savouries, “proper” British tea, spoke perfect English and charged ridiculously low prices.
All-in-all, this has been a great few days away from home. Simple, low-key and thoroughly relaxing. Homeward bound tomorrow - fingers crossed for quieter weather in the Channel!